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Qualcomm wants a bigger slice of laptops with its new Snapdragon X Elite platform

Qualcomm wants a bigger slice of laptops with its new Snapdragon X Elite platform

Can you believe high-performance Windows on Arm-based laptops will soon be upon us? Qualcomm thinks its new Snapdragon X Elite will have the processing chops to do just that. (Image source: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm is already one of the leading suppliers of Arm-based Windows laptops such as the Microsoft Surface Pro X, ASUS ExpertBook B3 Detachable and many more that operate on the company’s Snapdragon 8c and 7c series of compute platforms. However, their offerings haven’t been refreshed in nearly two years. So, it was quite promising to hear about Qualcomm’s plans to relaunch its PC-oriented processors with a brand refresh and a thorough overhaul of its processing core.

Enter the Snapdragon X Elite with a focus on uplifting AI processing, offer 5G connectivity and push for an ever more efficient performance-per-watt showing over the competition.

The Snapdragon X Elite logo; you may want to keep your eyes peeled for laptops sporting this in the second half of 2024. (Image source: Qualcomm)

At the heart of it all, the Snapdragon X Elite is ushering in a best-in-class CPU through Qualcomm’s new custom Oryon CPU. First unveiled as a next-gen premium experiences enabler in last year’s Qualcomm tech conference, the future is now with the Snapdragon X Elite sporting 12-core processor that operates at a speedy 3.8GHz and can perform dual-core boost at up to 4.3GHz! This makes it the first Qualcomm processor to speed past the 4GHz mark.

Snapdragon Compute Platforms compared
Snapdragon Elite X Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 Snapdragon 8cx
Launch Year 2023 2022 2020 2018
Process technology 4nm 5nm(Samsung 5LPE) 7nm 7nm
CPU 64-bit Oryon(12-core, 3.8GHz) 64-bit Kyro(8-core, 3GHz) Kyro 495(octa-core) Kyro 495(octa-core)
GPU Adreno(4.6 TFLOPS) Adreno Adreno 680 Adreno 680
ISP Spectra Spectra Spectra 390 Spectra 390
DSP (NPU) Hexagon(45TOPS) Hexagon(15TOPS) Hexagon 690 DSP(9 TOPS) Hexagon 690 DSP(6+ TOPS)
Qualcomm AI engine (total performance) 75 TOPS 29+ TOPS
Modem Snapdragon X65 1) Snapdragon X622) Snapdragon X553) Snapdragon X65 Qualcomm X24 LTE Qualcomm X24 LTE
5G support Yes Yes Yes, optional (Snapdragon X55) Yes, optional(Snapdragon X55)
Connectivity FastConnect 7800 FastConnect 6900 FastConnect 6800 FastConnect 6200
Wi-Fi support Wi-Fi 7 / 6E / 6 Wi-Fi 6 / 6E Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth support Bluetooth 5.4 Bluetooth 5.1 Bluetooth 5.1 Bluetooth 5.0
Memory support LPDDR5x, 8533 MHz,8-channel LPDDR4x, 4266MHz,8-channel LPDDR4x, 2133MHz,8-channel LPDDR4x, 2133MHz,8-channel
Storage support UFS 4.0& NVMe UFS 3.1& NVMe UFS 3.0 & NVMe UFS 3.0 & NVMe

With more cores, higher clocks, a newer processor design (the first time that Qualcomm is diverging away from the Kyro cores used on its mobile processors), manufactured on a newer 4nm process node, and taking advantage of its Arm instruction set architecture (ISA), the Snapdragon Elite X is positioned to deliver double the processing performance over an Intel 13th Gen Core processor, according to Qualcomm, of course:-

(Image source: Qualcomm)

(Image source: Qualcomm)

Furthermore, the Snapdragon Elite X is billed to consume 65% less power for the same peak performance output on a competitive Intel processor. These are really big figures thrown about by Qualcomm, and we can’t wait to see if this pans out on retail products sporting the new processor.

Combined with updated Adreno GPU, Spectra imaging processor, a far more powerful Hexagon neural processing unit fit for tackling large language models of 7 billion parameters running on device, a 5G modem, Wi-Fi 7 and speedier interface support via UFS 4.0 storage and LPDDR5X memory, this Snapdragon X Elite certainly has the chops to fulfil usage needs of the everyday productivity worker and even light content creator.

Looking ahead

A reference laptop platform utilising the new Snapdragon X Elite. (Image: Qualcomm)

To be honest, as big as Qualcomm is in this turf, they haven’t really made very strong inroads, and it doesn’t help that products powered by their processors cost similar to those powered by Intel and AMD processors that have a natural edge when the Windows ecosystem and applications work best on x86 processors than on Arm. However, Windows is now in version 11 since Snapdragon first ventured into this arena, and there’s even a Windows 11 Arm variant which improves upon several limitations that were previously present with better compatibility for 64-bit apps.

This gives us more hope that the Windows on Arm ecosystem will gain further traction. And there’s no greater proof than yesterday’s Reuters report that mentioned NVIDIA and AMD are both working on Arm-based processors that can power Windows-based laptops in 2025.

Qualcomm states consumers can expect retail devices sporting the Snapdragon X Elite from OEMs will be available from mid-2024 and when it does, we’ll be there to check out Qualcomm’s claims.

Click to view the feature summary of the Snapdragon X Elite compute platform. (Image source: Qualcomm)

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